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January 2000, Week 4
|Iranian Council Bars Candidates
|Iran's Khamenei Rejects Criticism
|Former Tehran Mayor Pardoned
|Canadian University to Open Branch in Iran
|Iran Ready for Talks with USA
|Iran "Ready" to Do Business with U.S. Companies
|Ex President Attacks Iran Reformists
|Iran To Try Policemen for Dorm Raid
Iranian Council Bars Candidates
The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran -Some 650 potential candidates have been barred from competing in next month's legislative elections, a hard-line Iranian council that screens candidates said Thursday.
Ayatollah Reza Ostadi, spokesman of the Guardians Council, was quoted by Iranian television as saying that some 600 out of 7,000 hopefuls were disqualified by the Interior Ministry and electoral supervisory councils, while 50 others were directly rejected by the Council.
"The reasons for the rejection of most of the candidates," Ostadi said, "were that they did not have the educational qualifications, were not old enough or had not resigned their posts when they were legally obligated to."
The final list of approved candidates for the Feb. 18 elections will be handed over to the Interior Ministry on Friday. The Council has for the first time been required to present evidence for rejecting nominees.
Ostadi said the rejection of the potential candidates was based on information and documents obtained from official sources. He did not rule out possible "errors" in the process. He said there was no prejudice behind the rejection of candidates for the Majlis, or parliament.
"This council does not favor any particular faction or individuals. When the final results are announced, the people will definitely make a fair judgment," Ostadi said.
Last week the Interior Ministry said the Guardians Council had disqualified 402 nominees whose eligibility to run in the Feb. 18 elections had earlier been approved by the Interior Ministry.
The council's decision to overrule the ministry is the result of a tug-of-war between hard-liners and moderates. The Interior Ministry is controlled by moderates who support reformist President Mohammad Khatami's attempts to grant Iranians greater democracy and to ease the social restrictions imposed by two decades of clerical rule.
The moderates have accused the Guardians Council of resorting to underhand tactics to ensure that reformists do not take control of the Majlis, which is now dominated by hard-liners.
Iran's Khamenei Rejects Criticism
The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran -Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that his authority is indisputable, apparently rejecting criticism from reformists who say he is not above the law.
Iranian radio quoted Khamenei as saying that the "true meaning" of the Iranian concept of "velayat-e-faqih," or the authority of the leader, is that "the person in charge of the Islamic government does not make mistakes and if he does he will not be the supreme leader from that moment."
"This is an obvious point that must be understood well and spelled out properly," the broadcast quoted Khamenei as saying.
His remarks come less than a month before crucial Parliamentary elections in which his increasingly unpopular hard-line supporters are being challenged by moderate reformists.
Last week, the hard-line Experts Assembly formed a committee to safeguard Khamenei's authority.
The committee, which elects and supervises the supreme leader, condemned any opposition to Khamenei and appealed to voters not to elect pro-West candidates in the Feb. 18 elections.
The polls are shaping up as a showdown between candidates calling for more openness and those who fear the Islamic roots of Iran's 1979 revolution are being forgotten. Reformists, backed by President Mohammad Khatami, are promoting ideas of greater democracy in Iran.
Jailed reformist Abdullah Nouri recently criticized Khamenei and said he was not above the law. Nouri, a former interior minister and close ally of Khatami, was sentenced last year to five years in jail for religious dissent.
Since his landslide election in 1997, Khatami has pushed for political reform, calling for an easing of strict social codes and greater freedom of speech.
Khamenei, who leads the hard-liners, has used his absolute powers to stall reforms. He has direct control of the Intelligence Ministry, the judiciary, the armed forces, and the broadcast network.
Former Tehran Mayor Pardoned
By Afshin Valinejad
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran -Iran's supreme leader has pardoned the popular, reform-minded former mayor of Tehran after seven months in prison a move seen as part of an effort by hard-liners to project a more moderate image ahead of parliamentary elections.
Gholamhossein Karbaschi was imprisoned on corruption charges he denied and sentenced to two years in prison. Now he is poised to plunge back into public life and will soon launch a daily newspaper, according to Parvin Emami, a journalist who is working with him.
"I think that involvement in politics has a price, and Mr. Karbaschi has paid that price. Now he should be allowed to return to the field as an active politician," Emami said Tuesday.
Reached by telephone at his Tehran home, Karbaschi declined to comment.
Tehran radio said judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi had requested that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pardon Karbaschi.
The pardon had been expected since Karbaschi left prison earlier this month after being granted a leave. It was not known when the pardon was granted.
The Feb. 18 legislative elections are shaping up as a showdown between candidates calling for more social openness and freedom of speech and hard-liners who fear the Islamic roots of Iran's 1979 revolution are being forgotten.
While trying to shore up their popularity, the hard-liners also are handicapping their reformist opposition. The Interior Ministry said earlier this month that 402 would-be parliamentary candidates, most of them pro-reform, had been disqualified by a hard-line electoral supervisory council.
Iranians, who overwhelmingly support President Mohammad Khatami's political and social reforms, began turning their backs on hard-liners after Karbaschi's 1998 embezzlement trial. The hard-liners' popularity waned further in the months after the trial, when they used the judiciary to arrest or jail more of Khatami's supporters.
Karbaschi's conviction left many Tehran residents believing they had been robbed of an honest, effective leader by hard-liners whose real target was Khatami. Karbaschi was instrumental in Khatami's 1997 election victory.
As part of his sentence, the former mayor was banned from holding public office for 20 years. It was not clear if the ban would remain in force following the pardon.
However, the country's culture minister, Ayatollah Mohajerani, said Tuesday that his ministry has granted a license to Karbaschi's new daily. Emami, Karbaschi's journalist friend, said the newspaper will be called Hammihan "Compatriot." Newspapers have been a prime tool of reformists in Iran.
Canadian University to Open Branch in Iran
TEHRAN - XINHUA - The Canadian University of Carleton will open a branch in Iran's Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf, an official from the Iranian Academy of Sciences Mostafa Mohaqqeq Damad announced on Thursday.
Damad said in Qeshm, a free trade zone in the Hormogan province, that the branch will start operation at the beginning of the next academic year late September. As a private university under the name of "the International University of Hormuz," the university will launch two courses in industrial and business management in the next academic year, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as saying.
Damad said that Iran's Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution has approved the formation of the university. The construction work to build the university campus began in 1993 and so far 50 percent has been finished, he added.
Iran Ready for Talks on Normalisation of Relations with Usa.
TEHERAN(Itar-Tass) - Iran is ready to begin talks on the normalisation of the relations with the United States, but "on definite terms", Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi stated here on Monday.
He stressed that the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, ruptured more than twenty years ago, could be among the main themes of the Iranian-American dialogue.
Iran Says it Is Ready to Do Business with U.S. Companies
(Tehran, Iran-AP) -- Iran reportedly wants to do business with American companies.
According to Iran's official news agency, the foreign minister said today Iran would welcome the presence of U-S companies in order to contribute to economic development of the region.
Washington identifies Iran as a supporter of international terrorism and bans U-S companies from doing business in Iran. Iran denies those allegations. Over the past several years, American companies have missed out on several big business opportunities in Iran because of the ban -- allowing European firms to grab lucrative contracts.
Ex President Attacks Iran Reformists
The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran - A former president said Friday that reformists are humiliating Iran in their attempts to win votes in next month's parliamentary elections.
In his prayer sermon at Tehran University, which was broadcast live on state-run radio, Hashemi Rafsanjani said it was "unjust" to question such things as Iran's performance during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and the principles of the revolution.
"If you want to win votes, you should choose other ways and not humiliate your nation," said Rafsanjani, who leads a council that advises Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on major issues. "Why do American and Israeli radio stations repeatedly quote your comments?"
The Feb. 18 elections are shaping up as a showdown between candidates backing reformist President Mohammad Khatami and calling for more openness, and those who fear the Islamic roots of Iran's 1979 revolution are being forgotten.
Rafsanjani, who is running, was once identified with reform but has been leaning toward the hard-liners who enjoy a slight majority in the outgoing legislature. He is widely believed to be aiming for the position of speaker.
Many pro-reform newspapers and politicians still hold Rafsanjani responsible for Iran's social and economic problems.
"Those who say every dam Iran built had a hole in it are committing treason," said Rafsanjani, adding that 60 dams were built during his 1989-98 presidency. "To whom are you selling the honors of your country and at what cost?
"Killing people's confidence is more dangerous than AIDS," he said. "Give up controversy, abandon the practice of eliminating each other. Foreigners will swallow you both, right and left, if you don't unite."
Iran To Try Policemen for Dorm Raid
The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran Several Iranian police officers will go on trial next month for their role in the storming of a student dormitory last July that provoked pro-democracy riots, a newspaper reported Monday.
The Arya daily quoted prosecutor Abbasali Farati as saying that the trial would begin Feb. 29. He added that 400 students have lodged complaints with the military court against the officers.
"Legal proceedings to indict 20 policemen, including Tehran's former police chief Brig. Gen. Farhad Nazari, have been completed and await trial on charges of illegally entering the Tehran University dormitory, damaging property and beating up students," Farati was quoted as saying.
Nazari, a hard-liner, was dismissed last August after being blamed for the dormitory attack.
Police and vigilantes raided the dormitory in northern Tehran after students protested the closure of a moderate newspaper. The raid, which left one person dead and 20 injured, triggered the worst unrest in Iran in two decades.
Tens of thousands of students held street protests against hard-liners who dominate the government. At least two people were killed in the protests.
The unrest was part of a larger power struggle between hard-line officials and moderates allied with reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
In a separate development, Iran's military prosecutor was quoted in Monday's newspapers as saying some suspects in the 1998 murders of five political dissidents still had not been arrested.
"New information on the serial killings will be announced soon," Mohammad Niyazi was quoted as saying. He gave no further details.
Iranian newspapers have in recent weeks criticized the government's handling of the investigation. More than a year ago, the Intelligence Ministry admitted that "rogue" agents were behind the killings.